Matthew Tanner, 36, is in the Intensive Care Unit at the Victoria General Hospital after suffering a brain stem stroke at his Saturna Island home. (Courtesy of Natasha Dalton)

Matthew Tanner, 36, is in the Intensive Care Unit at the Victoria General Hospital after suffering a brain stem stroke at his Saturna Island home. (Courtesy of Natasha Dalton)

Oak Bay man locked-in after massive brain stem stroke

Hundreds support family as Matthew Tanner in Victoria intensive care unit after stroke

Hundreds of people are showing support for a Saturna Island family facing an uncertain future.

Oak Bay-raised Matthew Tanner, 36, collapsed and was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital on March 9. The following day, doctors told his family he had suffered a massive brain stem stroke and had severe brain damage.

Tanner went into a coma for about three days, and when he woke on March 12 was suffering from locked-in syndrome – where a patient is aware or wakeful, but can’t move or communicate. Doctors are still unclear how well Tanner may recover, but say the stroke was caught too late for him to survive without any brain damage. There is no cure for locked-in syndrome.

Tanner is still in the intensive care unit and his fiancee Shannon Pryor and eight-month-old son Owen face the uncertainty of what comes next.

Shannon Pryor, Matthew Tanner and their son Owen in happier times. Tanner suffered brain damage after a brain stem stroke earlier this month. (Courtesy of Natasha Dalton)

Pryor’s sister Natasha Dalton spoke on her sister’s behalf from Toronto. She flew in to be with her after Tanner went to hospital but has since returned home to be with her own baby.

READ ALSO: Fundraiser benefits Sooke woman who battled ovarian cancer, then stroke

“He can only move his eyeballs up and down,” she said. “He’s on breathing tubes. He’s on feeding tubes.”

Tanner’s family owns house cleaning business Merry Maids of Victoria, where he was employed at the time of the stroke. Tanner grew up in Oak Bay and received a business degree from the University of Victoria. He played for and was an ongoing supporter of the Oak Bay Barbarians, a local rugby team.

Tanner, Pryor and Owen moved to Saturna Island in November, but the couple will now have to sell the new house, Dalton said, so they can be close to hospitals and other health care facilities.

A GoFundMe campaign Dalton launched March 20 raised more than $100,000 in three days. She said the money will help the family find accommodations while Tanner is in the hospital as well as pay for future treatments.

“We didn’t expect this much this fast,” Dalton said. “It shows the impact Matt has had on so many lives. So many people care about Matt and his family.”

READ ALSO: Victoria named Canada’s most generous city in 2020: GoFundMe


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
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